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SFPD won’t join Pride parade after organizers ban marching in uniform

“LGBTQ+ officers [were told to] hang up their uniforms and put them back in the closet,” said one police group

San Francisco Chief of Police Greg Suhr 2014

Then-San Francisco Chief of Police Greg Suhr waves while marching with officers in the 44th annual Gay Pride parade Sunday, June 29, 2014, in San Francisco.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

By Nathan Solis
Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Police said they will not march in this year’s Pride Parade in protest over organizers’ new decision not to allow officers to wear their uniform during the annual LGBTQ event.

The SFPD Officers Pride Alliance announced their decision Monday. Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies said they would also not march during the June 26 parade down Market Street.

The San Francisco Police Department will provide security for the event, according to a press release from the officers pride alliance. The group says they have been in discussions with the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, about incorporating uniformed officers into the event, but could not reach a compromise with the group that oversees the parade.

The controversy stems from 2019 when anti-corporate protesters blocked the parade route and were arrested and allegedly assaulted by police. Conversations about the incident became tense in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man murdered by a white police officer and the parade organizers decided that to make community members feel safe, that uniformed police would not be allowed to march in the 2021 parade. That parade ultimately did not take place and several other events were held around the city.

The 2022 Pride Parade will be the first where the new policy will be in effect.

[RELATED: Why banning the NYPD at NYC Pride is unsafe and unprogressive]

On Monday, the San Francisco Police Officer’s Pride Alliance said the committee overseeing the parade left the officers with little choice in the matter.

“We shared stories of the courage it took to serve as both a peace officer and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The board of SF Pride offered only one option: that LGBTQ+ peace officers hang up their uniforms, put them back in the closet, and march in civilian attire,” the group said in their statement.

“Let us be clear: this committee would not order the leather community to wear polyester at the parade. This committee would not order the drag community to wear flannel,” they said in their statement. “But they have told us, peace officers, that if we wear our uniforms, we may not attend.”

Suzanne Ford, interim executive director of SF Pride, told the weekly newspaper Bay Area Reporter that the policy is not an outright ban against police to participate in the parade.

“This is not a ban; this is merely an invitation to participate with a condition attached,” Ford said.

Police can participate in the march with T-shirts that state they are law enforcement, but uniforms will not be allowed, said Ford, a transgender woman.

To many LGBTQ officers who work in the city, the decision feels like a ban.

“I would really like San Francisco Pride to embrace the values of San Francisco, the values of radical inclusion,” Officer Kathryn Winters, who is a transgender lesbian, of the SFPD Officers Pride Alliance told KGO-TV in the Bay Area. “We want to be able to show the members of our community that there are people just like you who put on these uniforms every day and are out there to support, help, and protect you.”

“There was a time in the San Francisco Police Department when you could not serve as open police officers,” Winters said. “And certainly a time when you couldn’t even dream of marching in Pride.”

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